A tribute to John Smith Deane, 1929 – 2023

Published on 26/07/2023

Words by Andrew McKinnon

A founding father of Surfing Queensland and widely respected Coolangatta icon John Deane has sadly passed away at 93 years of age on Saturday night the 22nd of July.

A builder by trade who loved surfing, taught his sons Robye and Wayne how to surf. John bought the boys their first surfboards on Xmas Day 1960 and took them surfing for their first surf at Snapper Rocks/Rainbow Bay.

The Father and sons’ team would be a regular fixture surfing on the Coolangatta famous pointbreaks. It wasn’t long before both sons developed into champion surfers and proud members of the Snapper Surfriders Club while their dad took over the reins of the ASAQ (Australian Surfriders Association Queensland) from founding President Bill Stafford Senior established in 1964.

The admired John Deane successfully steered the State association in the development years hosting the National Titles twice at Greenmount in 1966 and 1970. He was the State President until 1972. Sadly, his youngest son Wayne passed away in 2018.

Last year John Deane was given a Life Membership of Surfing Queensland presented to him by CEO of Surfing Qld Adam Yates.

“He was so happy with the award and cracking jokes to the amusement of everyone in the office. He was a hugely instrumental administrator for the then ASAQ now Surfing Qld and we are all in his debt for setting the pace and leaving such a great legacy.”

Surfing Solictor Mal Chalmers represented John later in his career “I did a lot of work for John over the years particularly with his gold mining leases. He was a clever man and enjoyed life to the fullest.”

“I recall visiting John and Rhondda at their home on several occasions and John showing me some of his woodwork including the boat he built. I couldn’t believe that in his mid-80s he used to head off to Clermont for the winter prospecting.

Of course, we all remember his strong leadership of ASAQ- not an easy task given the strong personalities of the time!”

John is survived by his partner Rhondda, oldest son Robye and is a much-loved grand pop and great- great grandfather.

A church service has been organized for this Friday 28th July at 11,30am at Our Lady of the way Catholic Church, 11th Ave., Palm Beach for Family, and friends to pay their respects.

Photos from the Deane archives.

  1. As President of ASAQ John Deane presents his youngest son Wayne with his first State title in 1966.
  2.  John Deane and sons Robye & Wayne on a surfing trip to Double Island Point 1967.
  3. John Deane presented with a Surfing Queensland Life Membership Award in 2022 and the board he made for Wayne on Xmas Day 1960.


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